August 19, 2015
Let's Restore Traditional Marriage
By Mike McManus
Too much attention has been given to same-sex marriage. While the Supreme
Court has mandated it in every state, it should be noted that traditional
marriage the union of one man and one woman was a constitutional amendment
in 33 states, voted for by 50 million people.
Justice Scalia was correct in calling the 5-4 decision a "threat to democracy"
because it robbed citizens "of the freedom to govern themselves."
But the gays are right about one thing. Traditional marriage is not faring well.
Marriage rates have plunged 57% since 1970. Why? Cohabitation has soared 18-fold
to 7.9 million couples living together in 2014. While 59% of those who marry are
living together, that's only 1.3 million. What happened to the other 6.6 million
couples? They broke up. And cohabitants who married are more likely to divorce.
Divorces have tripled since 1960, rising to 1.15 million in 2013. Since 1975
there has been one divorce for every two marriages. Finally, unwed births have
soared 8-fold to 40%.
What can be done? My wife and I have pioneered some answers.
First, we trained couples in healthy marriages who can be found in every
church to be Mentor Couples helping engaged couples prepare for a lifelong
The engaged take a "premarital inventory," asking them to react to 150
statements like these:
- Sometimes I wish my partner were more careful about spending money.
- When we are having a problem, my partner refuses to talk about it.
The inventory is taken online with the results sent to Mentors who can help them
talk through their unique issues. Mentors can also teach skills to resolve
conflict respectfully. The major reason couples divorce is they don't know how
to calmly work through differences.
Secondly, some Mentor Couples whose own marriages were once in crisis, can help
those in current crisis. Every church has couples who have survived adultery. If
a "back-from-the-brink" couple met with a couple in crisis over infidelity, they
could say, "This what we did to restore trust." That's exactly what the other
couple needs to hear.
However, most pastors send couples in crisis to a Christian counselor. A major
Louisiana study reported 300 such couples "are substantially more likely to
divorce than couples who forego this option
.Marital counseling is associated
with at least three times higher odds of separation and divorce," It concluded.
Another major cause of divorce for those who remarry is stepchildren. "I don't
want a new mom," says a child who can drive her right out of that marriage.
Stepfamilies divorce at a 70% rate. However, Roswell United Methodist Church
near Atlanta creatted an answer called the "Stepfamily Support Group."
Stepparents go every other week and learn from each other how to make these
marriages work. In 16 years 80% of Roswell stepfamilies saved their marriage.
However, even if all these strategies are put in place, America's divorce rate
would still be too high. It's triple that of Britain or France, where only 8%
divorce in five years vs. 23% in the U.S. Why? If a British wife wants a divorce
but her husband does not, they have to wait 5 years for the divorce, six years
in France. Five or six years is a lot of time for couples to reconcile.
By contrast, half of our states have a ZERO waiting period. Those states are
pushing people to divorce. Pennsylvania and Illinois come closest to the British
model. If a divorce is contested by one spouse, couples must wait two years to
be divorced. Many find ways to reconcile and those states have two of the lowest
divorce rates nearly half that of 11 Hot Head States with zero waiting: OK,
TN, WV, AL, FL, MS, KY, ID, WY, AR and NV.
Therefore, I propose that there be at least a one-year period after a couple has
filed for divorce, before it is granted and two years, if the divorce is
contested or if they have children.
Finally, it makes no sense to pay cohabiting couples to have children. Every
unwed mother who gives birth gets about $25,000 of goodies from "Uncle Sugar,"
as Gov. Huckabee puts it: Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, etc. That makes sense
for a mother bringing up a child alone but not for a mom living with a
partner, who has the benefit of his income as if married.
Let's stop those subsidies unless the couple decides to marry. If they marry
let's continue benefits for two years, then taper them off. Married couples earn
$42,000 more than cohabiting couples, so in time no subsidies are needed.
Let's restore traditional marriage in America.
2019: Column 1961: Gun Control Laws Needed
Eight Reasons To Marry
Ten Myths of Marriage
The Ministry of Marriage 911
The Worst Valentine:
Pornography: A Public Health Hazard
Sextortion Kills Teens
Cohabitation: A Risky Business
same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,